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Old Nov 15, 2006, 8:58 AM   #1
nac
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Hi Everyone,

I would sincerely appreciate any thoughts you might have about the following Canon cameras...

PowerShot S3 IS, PowerShot A640, PowerShot A630 and the PowerShot A710 IS.

We are not professional photographers, but would like to purchase a camera that we will be happy with in the long term. Welike to take nice pictures, mostly of people...in poses or action shots. We would also like to take more landscape shots in the future...

Also, I like themovie options available on these cameras because we plan to have children soon and will likely want to record short movies of them. However, do you think we will just end up buying a video camera in addition to one of these digital cameras (ie. are the movie capabilities good enough on these?)...if so, maybe we could go for a lower-end point & shoot digital camera and get a video camera later?? Any thoughts??

Thanks soooo much for your help!

Nicole
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Old Nov 15, 2006, 10:02 AM   #2
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nac wrote:
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Welike to take nice pictures, mostly of people...in poses or action shots. We would also like to take more landscape shots in the future...

Nicole
Nicole,

I just want to ask for some additional detail on your stated needs.

You say yo like to take pictures of people - in poses or action shots. Are you using a camera to do this today? If so, what type of camera and are you happy with the types of photos you're getting?

For instance: taking pictures of people - this could mean you take a snap of a family member or friend at a party or it could mean you want a 'portrait style' shot with a nice blurry background. Two different types of photo - but both of people.

For the 'action shots' - can you be more specific? What types of 'action shots' do you want to take (kid playing in yard outside vs. kid playing football). Are you taking these types of action shots with your current camera?

Just want to get a better idea of your expectations of your new camera.


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Old Nov 15, 2006, 10:41 AM   #3
nac
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Hi John,

The photos I take of people are not usually portrait style...they are usually of friends and family in casual situations. Although, I'd like to be able to have some ability to take good quality posed photos as well.

As for action shots...they would usually be of friends or children playing. Although, should I ever have an athlete in the family, we would like to take action shots of them playing a game. Yes, we do take some action shots now, but these could be better.

Our current camera is now broken, but we did like the pictures it took (in general). We had a Sony Cybershot DSC P93 (5.1 mp, 3x optical zoom). We would like to take this opportunity to upgrade (I definitely think we should upgrade on the optical zoom) and both my fiance and I are interested in learning to take nicer photos.

Thanks so much for your help.

Nicole
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Old Nov 15, 2006, 11:35 AM   #4
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Well, one key statement is:

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...(5.1 mp, 3x optical zoom). We would like to take this opportunity to upgrade (I definitely think we should upgrade on the optical zoom)...
The A630 and A640 are both 4x zooms (35-140mm) not a big improvement.

The a710 is a 5x (35-210mm) a decent improvement AND it has IS

The S3 is where you'll see the biggest improvement at 12x (36-432mm)



I think you can eliminate the 640. The only benefit over the 630 is 10mp vs 8mp - which is insignificant.

So you're left with 3 cameras.

I think the S3-IS gives you the best bang for the buck. The only down-side is it's a bigger camera and "only" 6mp (vs 7 or 8 for the other two). Trust me on this: 6mp is PLENTY. The S3 gives you more zoom, IS and has exceptional video capability. Obviously not as good as a dedicated video camera but I believe it has better audio and capacity than tthe other models - but IM NOT SURE - someone else will have to jump in on the video capability of the camera.

The 710 is intriguing but it has the worst flash of the lot

So, I guess I would recommend them in this order:

1. S3-IS

2. A710

3. A630

Any of the cameras will do well for general 'people shots'. They also all have about the same wide angle (35mm or 36mm) so they will all fair about the same for landscape shots (although other cameras on the market have wider lenses - 28mm).

For action I will caution - none of these cameras is going to fair exceptionally well shooting action inlow light (i.e. indoor sports) nor are they designed for serious sports photography. They are absolutely capable of taking shots of kids playing outdoors and to some degree, playing indoors. But if you wanted a sports camera you have to go DSLR. I think that's overkill at this point. By the time you have kids and they are in sports it will be a completely different world.

If the size/bulk of the S3-IS doesn't scare you I think it's the best option. But I strongly encourage you and your fiance to go to a store and handle the cameras - ergonomics is extremely important and extremely individualistic. You may find yourself swayed towards or away from a camera based on how it feels and operates in your hands.




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Old Nov 15, 2006, 11:48 AM   #5
nac
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THANKS SO MUCH John!!!

I truly appreciate all of your help here!!

I live in Canada and the price difference on the S3 ISvs A710 is only $50 ($499 vs $449)...so this isn't really a factor.

I will definately take your advice and go to the store to handle both of these cameras. As far as I can tell, the S3 IS weighs twice as much as the A710...so this may make a huge difference.

I agree that the S3 IS is probably more for my money...but the ergonomics may be the deterant.

thanks again for all or your help!!

btw...if we were to go for something with a wider angle...would you have any suggestions, off the top of you head?

Nicole
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Old Nov 15, 2006, 12:12 PM   #6
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Hi again,

just wondering what you think of the Cannon Powershot SD700 IS?? It's the more pocket/compact version. It only has 4x optical zoom.

do you have any thoughts on the flash??

how bad is the flash on the A710 IS?? I think the A710 may be the answer (size wise), but I worry about the flash because you mentioned it was poor...can you elaborate?

thanks!

Nicole
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Old Nov 15, 2006, 2:22 PM   #7
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As far as image quality is concerned the A630 and A640 are clearly ahead, because these cameras have a larger 1/1.8" sensor. I would opt for the A630. 8 MP are enough for such a small sensor and the A640 is not worth the substantial price difference.
The A630 and A640 only yield better image quality if the images are not blurred by shake. The S3IS and A710IS unlike the A630/A640 have image stabilisation which protects you very well against shake. For me image stabilisation is a must. They also have a much more impressive zoom range, in particular the S3IS. The movie mode of all 4 cameras is very good. Canon simply has the best movie mode. The A630, A640 and S3IS have a wonderful swivel display - a great asset. On the other hand the A710IS is the smallest of all four cams.
All in all the S3IS clearly is the most versatile cam. Nevertheless I opted for the A710IS because of size and price, though I thoroughly miss the swivel display.
I haven't yet received the A710IS. Thus I can't tell from own experience. I had the S1IS, a predecessor of the S3IS, until april and was very satisfied with it.
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Old Nov 15, 2006, 2:36 PM   #8
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Thanks so much!

I am leaning towards the A710IS because of the size, IS and Optical Zoom...but I was a little concerned about John's comment about the Flash being poor...have you heard anything about that?

Thanks!
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Old Nov 15, 2006, 3:20 PM   #9
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the flash issue is a relative thing. I haven't used the camera, but the specs have the flash of the 710 rated as the lowest guide number of these 4 cameras. So, relative to the other 3 cameras the 710 had the weakest flash. Doesn't mean it's bad - it's just less powerful than the other 3 cameras by a small margin.

Bottom line on flashes though is: don't expect any flash on a digicam to work well past 10 feet - in most cases a 7-8 feet is about limit of use.

If I were you, I would read the review on this camera:

http://www.steves-digicams.com/2006_reviews/a710.html

Here is his comments on the flash:
Quote:
Our indoor results were also pleasing. Although the built-in flash is only rated at about 11 feet, I found it worked very well in small to mid sized rooms. When shooting individual portraits, it produced well exposed images with natural skin tones. The camera also controlled the flash output well when using the Macro focus mode, by "throttling down" to ensure the subject was not overexposed. You can also adjust Flash Compensation in Program, TV, and AV modes or even change the flash output power in Manual mode.


At the end of the day, every camera has it's plusses and minus' - if the 710 were better than the 640 in every facet no one would buy the 640. Canon does an interesting job of mixing things up so that all their different cameras each have strong points. So, don't get too freaked out by my statement - other cameras may have a more powerful flash but it isn't like the flash on this camera is junk. If the camera excelled at everything it would cost more $$$.
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Old Nov 15, 2006, 3:26 PM   #10
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thanks John!

I appreciate your help!


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